All posts by Mrs Clark

Digital Learning Week at Port Ellen

This week is digital learning week #NDLW19 across Scotland, and we are carrying out lots of digital activities here at Port Ellen.  We have STEM Robotics, Expressive Arts Green Screen Movies, Literacy and IDL with Google Meets, Numeracy Graphing with Gapminder online and Digital Story Telling using Sway.

As part of our ongoing plastics topic we are holding a Google Meet with scientists from the Maldives on Tuesday, linkng 3 different countries in order to find out about the latest research into the effects of plastics on our oceans from another island nation.

Generation Science will be joining us later in the week to deliver Robot constructor workshops for P4-6 in school, and P7s at a transition event in High School.

We will be telling superhero stories using Microsoft Sway and preparing to film our superhero tales using greenscreen and Imovie for our leavers assembly.

Finally, in our long term Endeavour projects we have to apply a new digital skill to our learning.  Some people have been designing video games on Kodu; we have gymnastics, triathalon and world geography Book Creators; a powerpoint recipe book; microbits and electronics being built; and several imovie documentaries from survival to marine aquariums to magic maths.

Global Data

Primary 6&7 have been using a great resource so they can look at data from around the world and use it to compare life in different countries.

Using the Gapminder tools online they have been able to compare things like income, life expectancy and child mortality for a range of places around the world, creating their own comparison graphs on Excel.

They have also visited Dollar Street, a fantastic tool that show exactly what it means to live on one of the four income levels, no matter where in the world you live.  The children have researched a family living on one of the income levels, and created a fact file.  We now know a lot more about the world around us, based on facts!


Dear Fishermen,

I am 12 years old and have been learning about plastic pollution in class. I know that this problem is speedily growing and can become worse than it already is. We did a beach clean and made surveys beforehand to see what one to use. When we went and did the beach clean we found out after that nets and rope was the most common amount of plastic found on the beach we cleaned.

The amount of rope we found was in-between three hundred and fifty to four hundred pieces. This means that fishermen have been dumping rope overboard and a lot of it as well. Rope can easily choke fish, choke seals and starve and choke literally all sea creatures. Rope and all plastics can be dangerous to animals and even turn and kill us. As a fisherman you rely on fish to catch. If we don’t sort the problem there will be no fish that are clear of plastic or in a long time no fish there. Would you like the food chain to be corrupt with plastics? Would you like to get poisoned by plastic waste? Would you like innocent creatures to die because of it?

As a fisherman that catches fish you want your fish to be somewhat edible and so it won’t poison your buyers or yourself if you decide to eat some of your catch. What you need to do is have a bag, a box or something like that to store your ropes so there’s no need to toss them overboard and so that they can be either re- used or dumped. Which is better than floating in the sea for animals to eat.

By Ciaran


Dear Reader,

My name is Rhys Gairns and I am 11 years old. I am writing this letter to inform you/the community why people should stop using plastic bottles. In school I am doing a topic of how harmful plastic is to the ocean and the environment. Every day over 60 million plastic bottles are thrown in the ocean, and over 2 billion plastic bottles are thrown away every year. We found 14 plastic bottles in the beach outside the co-op alone, which could be washed into the ocean, harming the underwater wildlife. I feel that writing this letter might persuade some people to try to stop using plastic bottles, which would help the environment.

Over 100 thousand aquatic animals are killed every year because of plastic, and lots of those could have died because of plastic water bottles. Plastic never decomposes, which means every bit of plastic ever made is still here to this day. When a plastic bottle is thrown away, it breaks down into micro-plastics after around 10 years. As a micro-plastic fish can eat it, and when they do they think they are not hungry, when they are actually starving. Whenever an aquatic animal eats a bit of micro-plastic, when we eat the animal, we also get the plastic in our bodies. The plastic is not as dangerous for humans as it is animals, but would you like to get plastic in your body?

What I would like you, the reader, to do is stop using plastic bottles. You could use tin or metal water bottles, or a flask. After all, even one person stopping using plastic bottles could make a major good impact on the environment.

Yours Sincerely,

Rhys Gairns


Dear Reader,

My name is Holly, I go to Port Ellen Primary and I am writing to you about the large amount of plastics found on beaches around Islay. We have been learning about the impact of plastic on the sea and how it affects it. This letter is about trying to make everybody aware of the damage that is being caused to the sea and help prevent it.

Plastic can be devastating towards our seas. Marine mammals can get plastic bags stuck around their heads and suffocate, plastic bags can get stuck in some of the animal’s bodies and so much more. Do you think it’s fair for the animals to suffer because of us? Here are some sad but true facts about plastic.

  • Did you know that more than 1 trillion pieces of plastics are already floating in our oceans.
  • Worldwide more than 73% of beach litter is plastic.
  • World plastic production has increased exponentially from 2.1 million tonnes in 1950 to 147 million in 1993 to 406 million by 2015.
  • As of 2015, more than 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic waste had been generated. Around 9 percent of that was recycled, 12 percent was incinerated, and 79 percent put in landfills or the environment. 

It’s horrible to think that this is what plastic does to the environment and even worse to think that things will just get worse, but that won’t happen if everybody comes together and makes a stand against plastic. Just little changes could help save our environment and the animals that live in it. If you want to start making a difference start small like only using reusable bottles and bags. These little things will make a big difference and help save our planet.

Yours truly,

Holly Mckechnie.

Takeaway the Plastic!

Dear Editor, 

I am an 11 year old boy called Aaron Clarke from Port Ellen Primary school and I am very concerned about the use of plastics from around the Island, and I would really like if I could change your mind about your plastic use and make the world a better place. 

I am talking about Plastic Takeaway Boxes; this is a big problem because everybody loves a takeaway but the sea doesn’t. I know I love a takeaway and all the rubbish ends in the bin which end in a dump; did you know that 40% of the plastic that is used for packaging gets used once? If you think that’s the worse, a fifth of plastic doesn’t get recycled at all! Sea animals are accidently eating your plastic and dying because of it, and then it’s not just them consuming plastic because then their babies are eating it, then us as well so please stop. Would you like to choke and die on plastic takeaway boxes? Plastic doesn’t just disintegrate, as it takes over hundreds of years to break down; just break down not disappear. 

So I beg please stop using plastic. You can still have your takeaways, just please try not to get ones with plastic food packaging or at least reuse it. Or perhaps local business could find biodegradable takeaway boxes and cups rather than plastic ones.  So that’s all I ask for, ask for non-plastic packaging for your food; look up if they have a website and find out about their packaging before you buy. Thank you for taking your time to read this and I hope you can try this out. 

Yours Sincerely, 

Aaron Clarke 

Aloha Hawaii!

On Wednesday 13th of March Port Ellen Primary school met and chatted with 2 marine conservation scientists- streamed live from Hawaii!  Port Ellen is currently doing a whole school project on Marine Plastics and primary 4-6 have been designing their own Marine Rescue and Education Centres, and wanted to find out more about them from real life experts. The aim is to make links with lots of islands around the world who are also affected by the impacts of plastics in the seas, so their teacher Kate Brown emailed contacts in Hawaii.  Dr Gregg Levine is a veterinarian who works on Oahua with marine animals and lectures at the university, while Cameron Dabney is an education officer on Big Island and works for Dolphin Quest and they both joined up to answer lots of well researched questions from the children about their jobs and the impact of marine plastics on the environment-even though it was midnight in Hawaii!  The whole school were so engaged and really enjoyed the opportunity to discuss issues they care about deeply with others who are affected.  Thanks to Gregg and Cameron for taking time out to talk with us.

National Mod Dunoon Success!

This year the Gaelic Choir at Port Ellen were going to Dunoon for the National Mod.  The first day of the mod we were in the bus then we went to Inveraray.  When we got to hunters quay we got to our lodge.We all went for a practice. Then we got our red and purple tee shirts. After that we went swimming and there were two pools opposite each other. One had a bridge and one was deep. We went for dinner I had chicken and it was fantastic.

The Second day of the mod we woke up at 7.30am. I had a shower then got my stuff. My nana and papa was there to pick me up in the car to the grammar school. Then we went to practice my poem then I went In. Thought I was 1st on  but I was 2nd on and I was so nervous but then I did it.  I waited for the competition to end I didn’t get a medal but I took part though.

We had lunch. Then we went to the High Kirk and we all sang two songs, our own choice and a prescribed song in the unison.  We had to go to the Queens Hall to sing one more song, the Puirt-à-beul.  We won all of the songs!  So we had to get recorded for the tv.  We went back to Islay, happy that we had achieved so much.

By Phoenix


On Wednesday 3rd October Port Ellen primary invited the older generation in the village into school to enjoy a lovely afternoon tea. There were scones and pancakes prepared by P1-3, sandwiches made by P4-6 and cupcakes made by P67 as well as shortbread made by Anne Holyoake. Children helped serve the tea and sat and chatted with the visitors, and they entertained them with dancing, singing, poetry, music and talks about their learning. More than 50 people came along, and there were 4 people over 90 present that afternoon, and the children really enjoyed spending time chatting and performing. Everyone joined in with a singalong of Birlinn Ghoraidh Chróbhain and a medley from WW1, while the gaelic choir practiced their songs before the Mod. The children even got to enjoy some cakes at the end too!

Primary 123 Recreate Dunyvaig Castle

We have all been learning about life in castles at Port Ellen this term following our exciting trips to Dunyvaig Castle to take part in the archaeological dig.  Primary 123 have made their own castles with working drawbridges from paper, and they have been researching what people who lived in the castles did.  Here is a clip explaining their work.

Community Funding

This year the council is trialling an exciting new way of giving out funds to community groups, where people living in Argyll and Bute make the decision.

We want everyone to know about this and have the chance to vote.
To find out more and to vote for the projects you would like to be funded please go to the website:

If you have any questions, or need support to vote, please contact 01369 708669

Trip to Murrayfield

One day after rugby club we where pulled in and I was chosen to be the mascot for the Scotland Rugby Team through the Islay Minis Rugby club, which is a club for people who want to play rugby till there in s2 and then they have to go to the one in high school.  On February 24th me, my dad and my grandad headed to Murrayfield to see the Scotland vs England rugby match as I was the mascot. When we got the stadium we had to meet up with the rest of the mascots to go and sit in a room and wait for some other people as they were late. When every one was in the room our parents went to there seats and we were taken into the tunnel where we waited for the game to start.  When the game was just about to start the players came out and lined up. I was partnered with Stuart Hogg who was my favourite player. When we ran out we had walk forward and kneel as Princess Anne walked behind us and shook the players hand. After that we went off and went to our seat and watched the game. Where we were sitting we had the subs right behind us. After half time we back to our seats and the game started up and it started up. When England were progressing through our defence, Jamie Bhatti, another one of my favourite players, he was injured and carried off and when he came up the steps to his seat he almost fell as he had torn something in his leg. After the game we went down and had to wait till the players got ready and got changed then they came out to sign our t-shirts and other stuff.  I was really thrilled that Scotland won!

By Taylor

Memorial to the Sinking of the Tuscania

Today is the hundred year anniversary of a tragic event that happened on Islay right at the end of the First World War.  The SS Tuscania, carrying 2000 American troops,  was torpedoed by a U-boat 7 miles off the coast of Islay.  Many of the survivors, but even more of the bodies ended up on our shores.  The survivors were rescued and looked after by the locals who took them into their homes, and the dead were buried in graves around Islay.  Today a service is being held at the American monument on the Oa and at the war graves in Kilnaughton cemetary to remember the tragic events of 100 years ago.  The school Gaelic choir will be singing An Eala Bhàn, The White Swan, a song written by a soldier from Uist who fought at the Somme.


The Sinking of the Tuscania

Below is a news article, written by the children, that tells the story of the Tuscania as though they were on Islay a hundred years ago:


On the 5th February a tragedy happened, the SS Tuscania, a US troopship that was carrying more than 2,000 American soldiers, was torpedoed 7 miles off the South East coast of the Isle of Islay. The SS Tuscania was going to Liverpool from New York City and was part of a convoy of 14 vessels. It was a tragic night with conditions like no other, the rough seas and darkness in the sky made it impossible to see. Sadly the SS Tuscania was torpedoed twice by a U- boat at 6:40pm; the first torpedo missed the SS Tuscania but sadly the second one hit it. It left a huge v shaped hole in the troop ship and destroyed many of the lifeboats. The torpedo hit the middle of the boat on the starboard side. The SS Tuscania sank at around 10pm. After having fired the torpedoes the submarine immediately dived to escape as escort vessels came to attack. Some of the men managed to get onto the lifeboats, left and got to safety, but others fell overboard due to rapid waves and rough seas. Luckily Three British destroyers; Grasshopper, Mosquito, and Pigeon came to help others, putting their own lives at risk to come alongside the Tuscania and as safely as they could transfer the men for one ship to another by rope whilst still being fired upon by the U-boat. The destroyers saved 1,500 men

As the lifeboats were approaching the coast of Islay in the dark, the men aboard the lifeboats would have heard the sounds of the crashing waves. An Islay man, Duncan MacDonald, is reported to have been on one of the lifeboats and he persuaded the other men on the lifeboats to wait until morning before they carried on. When it was light they then made their way safely into Port Ellen. Another 50 men sadly died when they were attempting to make their way in the dark and their lifeboats crashed on the rocks. One boat landed near Upper Killeyan and the survivors started to make their way to the Morrison’s family home. Robert set off to see what he could do to help, while his sisters Betsy and Annie had begun baking scones for them. One of the survivors was Arthur Siplon, who said ‘Men were in good spirits despite tragedy occurring all around them.’

Other people helped save them on the island, but many just collected the bodies of the dead. Luckily 132 men made it safely to Islay but sadly a lot of them were badly injured.

One of the survivors Everett Harpham wrote a letter to a friend in America saying that they nearly drowned and when it was light enough to see there was some bodies lying near them dead and they had to listen to the groans of the dying comrades until a Highlander rescued them. Arthur Siplon had been knocked off a lifeboat by a wave and managed to get back on and he was trying to help his friend Wilbur Clark up, when a big wave hit the boat again and they were both thrown against a rock and Wilbur Clark hit his head and sadly died.

Loads of people were found dead around the island in places like Lochindaal, Kilnaughton and Bowmore. There were 53 bodies buried in Port Charlotte, 83 were buried in Port Ellen and 46 bodies at Port- nan- Gallan. It is estimated that 182 lives were lost. There was a funeral at Port-nan-Gallan where 28 bodies were buried by Captain Ramsey and then on the 11th 18 more bodies were buried. Port Charlotte also had a funeral and over 400 people attended even in the rain.

We are all sorry for everyone’s loss and if anyone finds a body please contact the police.

By Sarah, Rebecca and Lauren P7